Friday, June 22, 2018

Mr. Payam Shoghi has started a company, he needs your help.



AMHARTA EDUCATION PRIVATE LIMITED
PUNE, INDIA


20 June 2018

Dear Friends

We all know about the power of education. Education is the greatest empowering force in the world. But this is true for not just any kind of education – certainly not the bookish learning that most schools offer their students! A comprehensive system of education that is directed at and serves to nurture the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, moral and spiritual potentials of children is the kind of education that we wish to promote.

I have been doing my bit, however small, to help improve the quality of education in schools over the past 25 years or so. I come from an engineering background but quickly shifted to the field of education. I helped my parents run a school in Patna, India, for over a decade, and soon it became the tool and means for me to gain firsthand insights, knowledge and experience in the field of education. My focus, during that period and beyond, was on innovations, on how to work with children more effectively, even if it meant to work with them differently. My team and I questioned many classroom conventions and practices, and discovered new and more effective ways of doing things. I went on to study education, along the way doing my Master of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Education, and Diploma in School Management.

I was later moved to share with others whatever I had learned over the years and thus got involved in teacher-training and began working with schools. This has been a very enriching journey for me as I got to learn a great deal from the teachers who attended the numerous teacher-training workshops that I facilitated over the years.

Somewhere along the path, I also got involved in corporate trainings, building on the common elements of human capability development, which is as much relevant to the corporate world as it is to our education system.

I have spent the past 25 years or so in the field of education in various capacities: as a humble student and learner, as a trainer of teachers and school leaders, as a consultant helping schools align their work and organizational culture with sound educational and moral principles, and finally as part of school managements, a position that I currently hold as Principal of RiverDale International School (http://www.rispune.com/ ).

A New Approach:

I have been moved, in recent times, to try and do something more! A majority of schools continue to advance a kind of education that promotes dependence, rote-learning, competition and a materialistic outlook towards life among children. Heavily dependent on content-based learning, the priority for most schools is to ensure that their students do well in the state and national Board examinations, at the detriment of helping them acquire the essential life-skills, attitudes and values that they inevitably require for future success in their lives.

This desire to do something more than what I was doing until now led me to explore different possibilities and after carefully considering all options, I decided to form a company.

And thus AmHarTa Education Private Limited was recently born!

Why a Company? 
I initially wanted to set up a NGO or Trust for creating a platform to work with schools on a large scale. But I soon realized that severe restrictions constrain the functioning of such agencies in India at the moment. The present Government in India, owing to security concerns, does not look favorably upon such not-for-profit agencies which raise substantial resources domestically and from abroad, but remain largely unaccountable in their functioning. The only other option that remained for scaling up my ability of working with an increasingly larger number of educational institutions was to form a company. Companies in India are well regulated and have greater freedom to function. Thus, AmHarTa is now the platform that I hope will enable us reach a larger number of schools with the programs and services that we intend to offer.

Programs and Services:

The programs and services that AmHarTa will offer and deliver to different kinds of educational institutions will, of course, evolve overtime. However, there is sufficient clarity on the basic elements of what we wish to do in our work with schools. These include:

1. Staff training:

This would be a major offering to schools. Apart from focusing on the essential capabilities that teachers need to be more effective in the realms of pedagogy, subject teaching, higher-order thinking, innovations and creativity, classroom management, discipline, assessment and such like, out training interventions will have two unique components:

a) Creating awareness among teachers between their professional work and the essence of their human reality. This is based on the common refrain that a ‘good teacher is first a good human being’! We have learned over the years that teachers begin to appreciate more the importance of their noble work with children, and become more motivated and more effective in their work when they (or for that matter any other group of professionals!) are helped to better understand concepts and principles related to human reality, and clarify for themselves related fundamental questions such as ‘Who am I as a human being?’ ‘What is my true reality?’ ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ ‘What is my inter-relationship with others in society’? And others. Relating the discourse on the role of teachers to the essentials of human reality is a unique capability that we currently possess, and which can be a major USP in our work with teachers.

b) Another unique component of our work with teachers that we have evolved over the years works at the level of attitudes. Most training programs merely focus on skills and information without taking into account the related attitudes that teachers require to be more successful and effective. A teacher with the best skills but with the wrong attitudes will probably be less effective compared to one with the right attitudes but bereft of skills. The teacher’s positive attitudes will help her find her way and acquire the skills and abilities that it takes to be successful. Attitudinal change and mindset conditioning take time and are difficult processes to unfold which is why most teacher-training programs choose to have nothing to do with them. But years of experience in this domain can make the difference between what we have to offer and everything else that is currently available in the market.

2. Accreditation:

The draft new National Education policy (India) highlights the formation of the School Accreditation council empowered to evaluate and accredit schools based on parameters matching international quality standards. Accreditation, which up to now was limited to higher education in India, will soon become mandatory for schools as well. Such accreditation process could lead to the grading of schools which can serve as a good indicator of their quality standards.

Working in the domain of school accreditation thus opens up vast opportunities beyond merely charting out the roadmap for ongoing improvement, but also providing the necessary handholding and follow-up support.

3. Programs of Moral and Value Education:

Many schools do not appreciate the importance of including a meaningful program of value and moral education in their curricula. Those that do, base their programs on a mundane and content based approach which remain largely ineffective.

Schools without a comprehensive and effective program of moral and value education do a great deal of disservice to their students by not helping nurture and develop their moral and spiritual potentialities.

We have acquired, over the years, a considerable amount of insights, knowledge and experience in this field, drawing upon a rich body of research that is now universally available, and on a careful marrying of inspiring content and effective modes of delivery.

4. Skilling Programs:

India has a high and growing percentage of unskilled graduates. These are young professionals who remain largely bereft of basic skills that they require at the workplace. Consequently, once hired they have to be re-trained all over again!

Structuring and running skilling programs among students of undergraduate programs in engineering and management institutions is currently a great need and which we intend to get involved in.

5. Infrastructure enrichment:

I have the pleasure of knowing a few wonderful people who have established schools which, over a short period of time, have become quite popular owing to the sincere and dedicated services of their promoters.

Most of these schools are, however, constrained by their lack of resources needed for acquiring permanent facilities and technical support to ensure ongoing improvement in their education.

I have been working with some of these schools over the years offering them trainings and other technical support. But what these schools need most is the support that will help them acquire their own permanent facilities in order to set them on the path of sustained and accelerated progress. Therefore, infrastructure enrichment is another program that we wish to run to help deserving schools acquire the facilities that will help them enhance their existing capacities, and thus impart the benefit of their educational programs to more students.

The Next Step:

Once the formalities of registering and setting up the company are completed, a lot of work needs to be done to get its programs underway. The following are the most urgent among these:

1. Setting up an office and hiring the necessary in-house staff.

2. Creating the company website and promotional materials like videos, presentations, handouts, brochures, etc.

3. Developing the programs to be offered, and structuring them into deliverable units. This will require input from related experts, and collaboration with other agencies and institutions.

4. Recruiting interested and capable individuals tasked with the responsibility of marketing and promoting the company’s programs on commission basis.

5. Recruiting interested and capable human resources who can deliver the company’s varied programs among schools and other educational institutions on commission basis. Once recruited, these individuals will need to be put through intense and ongoing programs of induction, orientation and training in order to be able to align themselves with the quality of work envisaged.

6. Organising a number of seminars for school leaders in different parts of India to familiarize them with the company’s programs after which follow-up and subsequent contacts is expected to yield the company opportunities of working with them.

Currently, three schools have been identified and lined up for helping them with their infrastructure needs. While two schools need to buy land, the third needs to build on its recently acquired land. A sum of Rs 85 Lakh (USD 125,000) is required to finance these schools.

Returns and Earnings:

Schools and other educational institutions will be required to pay for services rendered. The commercials for the company’s offerings have to still be worked out, but two models of payment are being envisaged at the moment:

1. Payment for stand-alone interventions which is settled by the institution concerned after the intervention.

2. Payment, suitably calculated on the basis of a certain amount per student based on the nature of offerings, which will be made by the institution concerned on monthly basis. Payments against school investments for infrastructure enrichment come under this category.

The intention is to reinvest any profit that accrues from such work back into the company after taking care of administrative and tax compliance related expenses.

How Can You Help?

As you can see from the description of work that needs to be done right away, we require a considerable amount of money to get the company started. Our immediate goal is to raise resources to the tune of Rs 2 Crore (about US$ 300,000). One fourth of this amount has already been raised or pledged. The company can receive foreign investments and so remittances from abroad are welcome. We invite you to consider investing in our company as a means to serve the cause of education in India. If we are successful in our work and able to grow in turnover and scope, you can look forward to receiving dividends on your investment.

You can also pass around the word and put us in touch with people who may be interested in associating with our line of work and investing in our company.

Please contact me on pshoghi@gmail.com in case you wish to partner us in our work which is going to be meritorious and rewarding. I will be happy to separately provide you with additional information and more details about our work if so required.

Sincerely,

Payam Shoghi
Pune (India)

Friday, March 2, 2018

बहाई नववर्ष और इतिहास

दुनिया मे लगभग 35 बार लोग अपनी-अपनी जगह विश्वासो, कारणों और तरीको से नया साल मनाते है। परन्तु उनमे से कुछ जो हम जानते है।
जनवरी मे मनाया जाने वाला ईसाई नववर्ष
चैत्र से शुरू होने वाला हिन्दू नववर्ष
मोहर्रम से प्रारम्भ होने वाला मुस्लिम नववर्ष प्रमुख है।
इसके अलावा सिर्फ नानक साही कैलेण्डर बुद्ध पूर्णिमा से मानकर नया साल मनाते है। किसी ऐतिहासिक व महान घटना को रेखांकित करने के लिए नया दिन, नई तारीख, नया साल और नया कैलेण्डर प्रारम्भ होता है। जैसे-ईसा का जन्म दिन, विक्रमादित्य का सिंहासन पर बैठना और हजरत मुहम्मद का मक्का से मदीना हजरत करना । इन्हीं घटनाओं को लेकर क्रमशः ग्रेगोरियन, विक्रम, और हिजरी कैलेण्डर प्रारम्भ हुए इनकी खगोलीय गणना चाँद और सुरज को आधार मानकर की जाती है । परन्तु यह निर्वियाद सत्य है । पृथ्वी सूर्य की परिक्रमा 365 दिन और लगभग 6 घण्टे मे पुरी करती है।
बहाई धर्म के अग्रदुत दिव्यात्मा बाब ने ईरान के पारम्परिक रूप से मनाए जा रहे नववर्ष (नवरूज) को ही नया साल घोषित किये और कहे कि यही नये कैलेण्डर के शुरूआत और मानव जाति के परिपक्वता का प्रारम्भिक बिन्दू है ।
बहाउल्लाह ने इस आदेश को प्रमाणित और स्थापित किया इस तरह इस वर्ष 21 मार्च 2018 में जब नवरूज मनाया जायेगा तो 175वां बहाई वर्ष प्रारम्भ हो जायेगा ।
बहाई धर्म मे कुल 9 त्यौहार और वार्षिकी होते है, जिसमे नवरूज मात्र एक ऐसा पर्व है। जो दिव्यात्मा बाब और बहाउल्लाह के जीवन तथा उद्घोषणा से सम्बन्धित नही है इस दिन सारी दुनिया के बहाई जो ईसाई, मुस्लिम, बौद्ध, हिन्दू, सिक्ख, यहुदी और पारसी सहित विभिन्न पृष्ठ भूमि से आते है , सब संयुक्त रूप से सामान आस्था और विश्वास को अपनाते हुए "उन्नीस दिवसीय उपवास" की समाप्ति के बाद नवरूज मनाते है।
लगभग 5,000 साल पहले शहंशाह जमशेद ने मौसम के महत्व को समझ कर कङकङाती ठंड के बाद जब बसंत का आगमन होता है। तो फसलो, फूलो और पशुधन मे बढ़ोत्तरी के कारण नवरूज को एक उत्सव के रूप में मनाया जाना प्रारम्भ किया ।इसीलिए इसे जमशेदी नवरूज भी कहते है ।
ईसा से लगभग 1725 वर्ष पूर्व ईश्वरीय अवतार जोरास्त्र जो स्वयं एक खगोल शास्त्री थे, उन्होंने नवरूज को बसंत समाप्त से सम्बंधित किया ।
जब सुर्य भूमध्य रेखा को पार कर जिस क्षण मेष राशि मे प्रवेश करता है वही से साल का नया दिन प्रारम्भ होता है ।
बहाई धर्म के संस्थापक बहाउल्लाह के ज्येष्ठ पुत्र अब्दुल बहा ने बसंत सम्पात को ईश्वरीय अवतारो का प्रतीक बताया।
यह दुनिया का एकमात्र ऐसा धर्म निरपेक्ष नया साल है । जिसे सभी धर्मों के लोग मानते है ईरान में तो पारसी, बहाई, मुस्लिम, यहुदी, ईसाई कोई भी हो इसे वह धूमधाम से समारोह पूर्वक मनाता ही है इसके आलावा सूफी, मुस्लिम, ईसमाईली, बलूच और काश्मीरी हिन्दू भी नवरूज मनाते है ।
संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ की जनरल एसेम्बली ने 2010 में नवरूज को अंतर्राष्ट्रिय दिवस के रूप में मान्यता देते हुए इस ईरानी मुल के बसंत त्यौहार को लगभग 3,000 साल से अधिक समय से मनाया जाता हुआ बताया है । और यूनेस्को ने अक्टूबर 2009 को नवरूज मानवता के लिए संरक्षित सांस्कृतिक धरोहर की सूची मे सामिल किया है।
21 मार्च को दिन और रात लगभग बराबर होते है , विज्ञान खगोल शास्त्र के अनुसार भी सुर्य के भूमध्य रेखा को पार कर मेष राशि में प्रवेश को ही समय तारीख और दिन की गणना हेतू सर्वाधिक उपयुक्त माना जाता है ।
*ईश्वर ने चाहा तो* आने वाले समय में नवरूज ही सारी दुनिया का एकमात्र अधिकारिक नववर्ष होगा इसी आशा ,विश्वास और भावना के साथ समर्पित ।

इकबाल चन्द, रामपुर, उत्तर प्रदेश

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baha’u’llah as the Hindu Kalki Avatar

Baha’is worldwide proclaim Baha’u’llah as the “Promised One” of all religions.

This refers to the truth-claim that Baha’u’llah fulfills the messianic expectations of the world’s religions. It’s quite a claim, actually. It’s even more interesting when comparing Baha’u’llah’s claims to the actual prophecies themselves.

In this series, Christian and Islamic prophecies have been the primary focus. But to illustrate the universality of Baha’u’llah’s claims, let’s take a look at some other prophetic traditions. Take Hindu prophecies, for instance. This topic is well worth exploring, considering the fact that the country with the largest population of Baha’is today happens to be India, the world’s largest democracy, where the majority of the religious population are Hindus.

How did I end up studying Hindu prophecies in the first place? Around 1980, I joined the American Academy of Religion (AAR), which is the largest learned society of scholars in the academic study of religion in America. (I was invited to join AAR by Prof. Paul Achtemeier (d. 2013), former President of the Society of Biblical Literature, which was affiliated with the AAR.) I paid my dues. But I was not a professor. Instead, I was self-taught—an “autodidact.”

The first AAR paper that I ever presented was on Hindu prophecy is available online.

In popular Hindu religion, the future Messiah will be known as Kalki (the “Destroyer”). That name alone says a great deal about the nature of these prophecies. Basically, Kalki fights a big war against his enemies, the first of whom are Buddhists! The idea that Buddhists are evil gives pause for thought.

The scenario of a cosmic battle between good and evil is a common theme that pervades apocalyptic texts throughout the world’s religions. Some of these texts are highly imaginative, as well as vivid in their scenarios of the future.

Yet these texts, generally speaking, lack imagination in one respect: they cannot conceive of the triumph of good over evil by means that are good rather than evil, especially if one considers war is basically evil—even if a war is a “necessary evil,” i.e. a “just war” for defensive purposes.

But Kalki does not defend. Instead, he conquers. In other words, Kalki is seen as a great military leader. However, he is not a great spiritual leader.

So how do we get from Kalki to Baha’u’llah in terms of fulfillment of Hindu prophecy? Here’s an even more fundamental question: Why would anyone want to see this cosmic battle take place anyway?

Let’s look at a couple of representative texts. Among the many Hindu scriptures, there is a Hindu counterpart to the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible which is filled with prophecies regarding the time of the end, and the return of Jesus Christ. This Hindu work is called the Kalki Purana.

At the time that I wrote my paper, the Kalki Purana had not been translated. But since then, the Kalki Purana has been translated. One translation is available on the Internet: Sri Kalki Purana, by Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva, translated by Bhumipati Das and edited by Purnaprajna Das, with Sanskrit transliterations and verse translations (Mathura: Jai Nitai Press, 2006).

We all know that war is not spiritual—but Kalki fights a big war. So is Kalki spiritual?

Chapter 14 of the Kalki Purana is entitled, “ Lord Kalki Conquers the Buddhists Who Opposed Him” (pp. 148–160). One can understand the desire to defeat one’s opponents. One way is by force. Another way is by persuasion, or at least by some kind of agreement through dialogue.

Baha’u’llah did not fight a war. He was a prisoner and exile, not a military leader. As a prisoner in Akka, and before when he was in Edirne (Adrianople), Baha’u’llah proclaimed his mission to the kings and religious leaders of the world, and undertook what might be regarded as the first international peace mission of modern history. So, in order for Baha’u’llah to be the messianic fulfillment of the Kalki prophecies, we need to radically reinterpret the prophecies themselves so as to spiritualize them.

A few similar chapter titles from the Kalki Purana serve to reinforce this point: Chapter 15: “Lord Kalki Is Attacked by the Mleccha [foreign] Women: Instructions by the Weapons Personified;” Chapter 20: “Lord Kalki Travels to Bhallatanagara Sasidhvaja: a Great Battle Takes Place.”

The Kalki Purana has 35 chapters. Two of the closing chapters are entitled: Chapter 32: “Lord Kalki Enjoys Pastimes With His Consort”; Chapter 33: “The Demigods Arrive at Shambala: The Disappearance of Lord Kalki.”
Let’s take a look at chapter 19:

“The Appearance of Satya Yuga: Description of the Different Manus.” If there were to be any positive spiritual teachings in the Kalki Purana, one would expect to find them in this chapter.

Hinduism has a doctrine of cycles of time, or various “ages.” Kali Yuga is the period of greatest evil. Satya Yuga is the Golden Age, which analogously corresponds to the Millennium in Christian prophecy, except that the former lasts 4,000 (“celestial”) years, while Kali Yuga is 1,000 years (or 1,200 years, if the “transitional years” of 100 years, before and after, are included), according to Sri Yukteswar (The Holy Science, 1894, p. xv). (“Celestial” years are vast spans of time.) But these time periods vary, depending on the tradition. (Some say Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 years!) Kalki appears at the end of Kali Yuga. Chapter 19 closes with these two verses:

I am the personified Satya Yuga. During my lifetime, pure religious principles are observed and protected. I have received the name Satya Yuga because the people [of] this age are pious and truthful. – Text 17.

Lord Kalki was surrounded by His associates, and after hearing these words of Satya Yuga, He felt delighted. The Lord, in consideration of the arrival of Satya Yuga, ordered His devotees as follows, with a desire to root out Kali [a demon Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kālī).]: “Pick up your weapons and prepare yourselves to march.”– Text 18–20.

In Chapter 20, “Lord Kalki Goes Out to Conquer Kali and His Allies,” Kalki announces:

You know very well that at the request of Grandfather Brahma, I have assumed this form of Kalki avatara [avatar] … I am just about to set out on a tour to conquer all the kings of the world.– Texts 24–25.
So there you have it: Kalki is a conqueror. Baha’u’llah is a peacemaker, who announced:

… the establishment of the Lesser Peace, details of which have formerly been revealed from Our Most Exalted Pen. Great is the blessedness of him who upholdeth it and observeth whatsoever hath been ordained by God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 23.

In the next essay, we will further explore how Baha’u’llah, the peacemaker, can be considered the fulfillment of the Hindu prophecies regarding Lord Kalki, the conqueror.


Written by :
Christopher Buck (PhD, JD) is an attorney and an independent scholar who has written several books, including God & Apple Pie (2015), with an introduction by J. Gordon Melton (Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, Baylor University), Religious Myths and Visions of America (2009, “an original contribution to American studies,” Journal of American History, June 2011), Alain Locke: Faith and Philosophy (2005), Paradise and Paradigm (1999), Symbol and Secret (1995/2004), Religious Celebrations (co-author, 2011), and also contributed chapters in such books as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey West: The Course of Human Solidarity (2013), American Writers (2010 & 2004), The Islamic World (2008), and The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’an (2006). See us.academia.edu/ChristopherBuck and bahai-library.com/Buck.

Originally published at : http://bahaiteachings.org

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Baha'i School ranked among the top Boarding Schools in India

RiverDale School has been ranked among the top Boarding Schools in India second year running. In its annual rankings for 2017-18, Education Today has ranked RiverDale 4th in India, and 1st in Maharashtra and Pune among all Boarding Schools in India. Received the award on behalf of the School at the awards ceremony in Bangalore moments ago.

This achievement is clear acknowledgement of the hard-work and care with which the school staff have been discharging their duties and responsibilities, and the diligence with which the students have been responding to the guidance and efforts of their teachers, dorm-parents and other staff.

Congratulations to the entire RiverDale School community.





Saturday, November 4, 2017

Learning from Fund Gatherings held in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Dearly loved friends

Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of India and is bordered by the Union territory of Puducherry. It is a land famed for its Hindu temple architecture, miles and miles of coastline and its fiery and distinctive cuisine. It is also home to over thirty two thousand Bahá'ís and the entire region is divided into eighty six clusters with thirty six Local Spiritual Assemblies tending to the needs of local communities.

As the activities in the region intensify and grow in number, the Regional Bahá'í Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has undertaken a systematic process of fund education. Increasingly, individuals see giving to the fund as a part of their Bahá'í identity, communities afford all an opportunity to contribute without emphasis being laid on the amount, and institutions are learning to have a high sense of justice and a flexibility that comes from an understanding of different realities in clusters. A review of the Ruhi institute materials makes it clear that giving to the funds is an important element of a vibrant community. As Bahá'í communities expand, the spiritual obligation of contributing acquires added importance and should be increasingly supported by the entire body of the believers. Friends in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are utilizing spaces already in place - such as the Nineteen Day Feasts, home visits and other gatherings to raise awareness about the funds.

The Council initially thought of having fund education gatherings at the regional level. However, it soon realized that participation at regional gatherings was much less than at the village level. Many believers are involved in daily labour and a village gathering enabled them to participate. Also, the friends learned that there was very little participation of families at the regional level but when the gathering was held in the locality or village, more family members participated. Children who attended Bahá'í classes also came and soon began the habit of contributing. The setting allowed for home visits so all could be invited and no one felt excluded. These household visits facilitated discussion on subjects that came up naturally, such as family life, service and contributions and soon fund gatherings began to stimulate growth of other activities in the area. In this way, fund education began to enhance the community building process and was seen as an effort that strengthened it, than being seen as a separate process.

At the regional level, it was sometimes a struggle to understand the reality of individuals and their lives but at the village level one could talk to people in their settings and gain a much deeper appreciation for their sacrifice and contributions. The nature of expenses of the gatherings also changed. Regional gatherings were organised and funded by the Regional Council, but at the village level, households were involved in organising these and they soon became self-sufficient because the community hosted them in their homes and contributed to tea and snacks.

As part of the on-going efforts of the Regional Bahá'í Council to raise consciousness of the spiritual nature of giving, the Treasurer of the Council, along with fourteen assistant Treasurers in the clusters, make regular visits to Local Assemblies and individuals, sharing with them the importance of the fund and encouraging universal participation. Initially it was felt that Local Spiritual Assemblies could assist better if they are relatively strong and are functioning well. However, in one instance, the fund gathering itself assisted the Local Spiritual Assembly in its functioning. At a recent fund gathering, the assistant to the Treasurer was requested to help in organizing. He suggested that the Treasurer of the Council should meet with the Local Spiritual Assembly. Through calling this meeting, the Local Assembly met for the first time and elected its office bearers. They consulted together on funds and this soon led to discussion and planning for the bicentenary celebrations as well. The Local Assembly then decided it would take responsibility for the fund gathering. They organised one week of home visits prior to the gathering and another week after the gathering. A list of available Assembly members going on these visits was made. The Treasurer of the Council joined them two days prior to the gathering and also assisted with home visits. Thirty friends attended the fund gathering. Following this, the Local Spiritual Assembly met again and decided that they would hold regular Nineteen Day Feasts and open a local bank account. The Council is learning that these fund gatherings provide an opportunity to work closely with Local Spiritual Assemblies.

As a result of these systematic efforts the friends are becoming increasingly aware that it is each one’s spiritual obligation to support the Bahá'í fund. A culture is gradually emerging where greater numbers of believers are contributing as sacrificially as their means allow. If their economic status does not allow them to contribute in cash, they give to Bahá’u’lláh in kind or through physical labour. At a fund gathering in Virudhunagar, friends were inspired to think of ways by which they could contribute. In this area there is a great demand for fire-crackers used during festivals throughout the year and believers decided that they would make these, sell them and give their earnings to the Faith. Other believers grew a type of bitter melon that is very popular among locals, sold these and contributed the sale proceeds to God.

At another fund gathering in Vellore, a student said that she wanted to contribute. The Treasurer of the Council asked how she would do that since she was still in school. She said she would work after school hours in a factory that made bricks. The next week she gave the Treasurer a small box with money in it. Wanting to understand better the spirit of devotion and sacrifice that went into this contribution, the Treasurer visited the brick factory and saw for himself the hard physical labour the young girl was putting in – her hands turning red as she continuously placed the bricks line by line.

May these efforts so strenuously exerted be sustained and blessed by Him who is vigilantly watching from on high the self-sacrifice of His faithful believers.

THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF INDIA

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Forthcoming meeting of the National Spiritual Assembly

17th, 18th & 19th November 2017, New Delhi.

Healing message of Baha'u'llah to the President of India.

NSA Members Ms. Nazneen Rohani and Mrs. Zena Sorablee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates Baha'is on the birth anniversary of Baha'u'llah.